Week of July 18-24, 2015

The KMT officially nominates Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu as its presidential candidate; People First Party Chairman James Soong is to announce his decision on a potential presidential candidacy early next month; Rumor has it that the KMT has proposed to help Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng keep his current job in exchange for supporting Hung; DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen holds a comfortable lead in polls; The PLA simulates an attack on Taiwan’s Presidential Office. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.



KMT NOMINATES HUNG: The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) national congress officially endorsed Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) on Sunday as its presidential candidate amid rumors that she would face opposition within the party.

In her acceptance speech, Hung vowed to adhere to the Republic of China’s (ROC) Constitution and the party’s political platform, which includes the “1992 Consensus,” while singling out “political infighting” and “populism” [presumably caused by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)] as the biggest threat to Taiwan. Hung added that only victory of her party in next year’s elections could safeguard the nation’s “peace and openness.”

The DPP described Hung’s criticism as “lacking political grace expected of the ruling party and its presidential candidate.

Analysts said that Hung’s description of the country’s status in her speech as well as her pledge to “turn the country around” sounded like (unintentional) criticism of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration.

On Thursday, Hung told a radio interview that she would not be so “silly” as to say that the ROC does not exist, and proposed to build a cross-strait “military mutual trust mechanism” in addition to a peace agreement. However, both would have to been signed between governments rather than states, she said.

Hung’s full speech is available here.

WANG’S FUTURE UNCLEAR: The future of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) remains unclear. The man who was dubbed the leader of the KMT’s “pro-localization” faction attended Sunday’s congress as a gesture of solidarity, but did not give an answer regarding KMT Chairman Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) reported proposal to revise the party’s nomination rules so that Wang would stand for another term as a legislator-at-large — which would pave the way for another term as speaker — in exchange for supporting Hung, now an emblem of the KMT’s “pro-China” wing. Analysts observed that Wang is not likely to accept Chu’s proposal as the KMT could lose the legislative majority and, therefore, the speaker seat.

Speculation about Hung’s feud with Wang over the KMT’s presidential nomination resurfaced on Monday following her unexpected absence from the swearing-in ceremony of a newly appointed KMT legislator-at-large presided over by Wang.

SOONG’S DECISION IN AUGUST: People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) remained silent about a possible run in next year’s presidential election, although he bluntly lashed out at the KMT for “leading itself to its doom” at his party’s central meeting on Tuesday. The three-time presidential candidate said his final decision on whether he would join the race would be made public early next month.

KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu’s spokesperson Jack Yu (游梓翔) said a Soong presidential bid would only help the DPP.

TSAI MAINTAINS LARGE LEAD: DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) continued to enjoy a steady lead over Hung in the latest opinion polls for next year’s presidential election, with Hung’s nomination by the KMT on Sunday seemingly having limited effect in boosting her support.

Poll results released by Next TV on Wednesday indicated that Tsai remained ahead of Hung by a margin of over 20 percentage points after the KMT confirmed Hung’s candidacy (for which 42.1 of respondents believed President Ma had played a role).

Various polls put Tsai heading for victory even if PFP chairperson James Soong joins the race.

Recent poll results:

Polling organization/client Date(s) conducted Tsai, Hung Tsai, Hung, James Soong
Taiwan Brain Trust11-12 July 54.3 % 21.3 % 46.5 % 17 % 23.6 %
Taiwan Thinktank15-16 July 54.2 % 24.6 % 43.8 % 21.6 % 21.7 %
TVBS19 July 42 % 30 % 34 % 25 % 19 %
KMT National Policy Foundation19 July 47.1 % 37.6 %
Next TV20-21 July 47 % 26.7 % 39.1 20.6% 21.6% %

TSAI’S RUNNING MATE: Tsai Ing-wen introduced Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), a former DPP secretary-general and her presidential running mate in 2012, as her “best partner” to the participants at an event in Kaohsiung on Sunday, leading to speculation of a possible pairing in the presidential election. Former Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) denied rumors that Tsai had asked him about his interest in serving as her running mate.



DAN QUAYLE VISITS TAIWAN: Former U.S, vice president Dan Quayle arrived in Taiwan on Sunday for a three-day visit, during which he had meetings with President Ma, KMT presidential candidate Hung, and DPP Chairperson Tsai.

During his Tuesday meeting with Quayle, President Ma ascribed the stability in Taiwan-U.S. and cross-strait relations to his policies under the “1992 Consensus.” Hung met Quayle on the same day and expressed confidence in her chances in the upcoming presidential election.

Tsai had a discussion with Quayle a day earlier, reaffirming the U.S. as Taiwan’s “friend and partner,” while saying that she was confident the DPP would return to power next year. Tsai highlighted Taiwan’s economic issues during the discussion and reiterated the DPP’s support for Taiwan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

US INTERESTS IN PRESERVING CROSS-STRAIT STABILITY: If the DPP returns to power following next year’s presidential elections, Washington can help prod both Beijing, while the U.S. has “deep and enduring interests” in preserving stability across the Taiwan Strait and has an important role to play in shaping the policies of both sides, Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser for Asia Bonnie Glaser and research associate Jacqueline Vitello argue in The National Interest.

HUNG ON US VISIT: KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu attaches great importance to the Taiwan-U.S. relationship and, even if she could not visit the U.S. because of her tight schedule, she would send representatives in her stead, Hung’s office said on Tuesday. Hung had earlier derided the idea of visiting the U.S., likening it to a form of test or job interview. Michael Quinlan, a spokesman for the department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau, remarked that the U.S. has no position on the candidates in Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election.

TIFA TALKS: The Chinese-language Apple Daily cited a press release by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan as reporting that the next round of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiation between Taiwan and the U.S. was scheduled to take place sometime during the bottom half of the year in Taipei.



WORLD’S RICHEST POLITICAL PARTY: The latest report from the Ministry of Interior showed that the KMT, described in 1994 by the Far Eastern Economic Review as “KMT Inc,” last year had assets worth about NT$25.5 billion (US$814.38 million) — exceeding the combined wealth of all the other political parties in Taiwan.

KMT spokesperson Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said on Tuesday that the party would complete its efforts in detailing the party assets by the end of the month. The DPP says that the party’s “illegal assets” which the KMT has promised to release are merely the “tip of the iceberg.

Separately, Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers last Friday accused a military-supported civilian group of misappropriating state funds, which they cited as a typical example of KMT’s manipulation of public assets and civic groups for its own political and business interests.

KMT REJECTS EXPULSION CRITICISM: KMT Chairman Eric Chu last Friday rejected the “hall of one voice” criticism of the party’s decision to expel five members who often publicly criticized the party, a move that has prompted concerns over a possible widening of the split within the party. Four of the expelled former KMT politicians are likely to run against their former KMT compatriots in the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for January.

PFP UNWELCOME BY ‘THIRD FORCE’: The New Power Party (NPP) vowed on Saturday to win five to seven seats in the upcoming legislative elections, while regarding the PFP as unqualified to be considered as part of Taiwan’s “third political force” as it has always been an “accomplice of the KMT and President Ma Ying-jeou’s administration.”

HAU JOINS KMT’S KEELUNG PRIMARY: KMT Vice Chairman and former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) joined the party’s legislative primary in Keelung last Friday, with a reportedly delayed signup due to strong opposition by KMT members in Keelung.

LEE TENG-HUI VISITS JAPAN: Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday for a six-day visit, addressing hundreds of Japanese lawmakers at the Diet with an emphasis on Taiwan’s urgent need of a second democratic reform despite Beijing’s pressure on the Japanese government to cancel the arrangement for his speech.

Responding to a reporter’s question about sovereignty over the disputed Senkakus Islands, known as the Diaoyutais in Taiwan, Lee told a conference with the Foreign Correspondents of Japan that he believed Japan, not China, has sovereignty over the the islands.

Lee’s office denied a report by TV Tokyo Japan Corp that Lee had met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for 90 minutes on Thursday.

PROTESTERS ARRESTED FOR BREAKING INTO MINISTRY OF EDUCATION: Several hundreds of high-school student protestors against controversial high-school curriculum guidelines camped outside the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Wednesday, demanding the withdrawal of guideline adjustments which critics described as “China-centric.”

At around 11pm on Thursday night, dozens of protesters broke into the MOE compound with several students occupying the minister’s office. Police were immediately sent in and around the compound overnight to evict protesters and to prevent supporters from entering the ministry. Taipei City police said on Friday morning that 33 protesters, including 24 students, three reporters and six other individuals, have been arrested. The MOE said it plans to file a lawsuit against those who broke into the compound.



PLA SIMULATES ATTACKS ON PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE: A report on Wednesday by a Chinese website showing footage featuring Chinese troops maneuvering toward a building resembling the Presidential Office in Taipei, which aired on Chinese state-media China Central Television (CCTV) on July 5, sparked debate over whether Beijing intended to signal its willingness to use force to resolve the cross-strait dispute. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Wednesday that the implied target of the military drill hurt cross-strait relations and was unacceptable. The Chinese defense ministry denies the exercise was aimed at a specific country.

NSB CHIEF RESIGNS: President Ma on Tuesday accepted the resignation of National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) due to health reasons. Lieutenant General Yang Kuo-chiang (楊國強) is expected to fill the vacancy, according to the National Security Council. The Council dismissed speculation that Lee was forced to quit due to an alleged blunder in intelligence gathering regarding DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the U.S. in May. Local media also reported that Lee was forced to resign for his refusal to conduct illegal intelligence gathering on non-KMT presidential candidates.

The Presidential Office confirmed Wednesday that Lee was forced to step down on the recommendation of NSC Secretary-General Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) and in light of his health situation. The NSC denied all suggestions of a power struggle.

MILITARY RECRUITMENT TARGET REACHED: The Ministry of National Defense has reached 71 percent of this year’s recruitment target as it shifts to an all-volunteer force from the conscription system, the ministry said on Tuesday. The Ministry attributed the progress to a new financial incentive program approved by the Executive Yuan in April.

PRC ANTI-SUB CAPABILITIES: China is rapidly improving its anti-submarine warfare program as Taiwan struggles to modernize its submarine fleet, a study from Stratfor Global Intelligence says.



PRESCHOOL CHILD ABUSE CASES MORE FREQUENT: Young children not yet in school account for a growing share of reported child-abuse cases, and their suffering often goes unnoticed as they are not included in the public support and surveillance system, the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Department of Protective Services says.

AIRPORT EXPRESS LAUNCH DELAYED: Originally scheduled to be in operation by the end of this year, the railway link between Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport has ground to a halt due to mechanical problems leading to system stability concerns.


The Taiwan Insider is a weekly feature prepared by the Thinking Taiwan Foundation’s Chris Wang and staff members. Comments? Leads? You can reach us at editor@thinking-taiwan.com. Click here to subscribe to the Insider and receive it in your e-mail.


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